I have no idea when the idea of geomancy first cropped up in Voynich studies and I wish it wouldn’t. To my shame, when I tried to find out who began the ‘geomancy’ thing in the new-wave period of Voynich studies (i.e. post 1980s), Google sweetly informed me that on balance – and though Wayne Herschel apparently started it – first I and then Stephen Bax are to blame.
Anyway, Google’s best finds:
- In 1992 (as I found out today), in a book by Sara Martin, John Anthony West, The Case for Astrology (p.112), the authors say that Wensel, or Wenceslaus, Emperor from 1378-1400 and king of Bohemia till 1419, was interested in astrology and geomancy – which is fair enough – then they say that pictures of girls in bathing tubs are “typical of manuscripts produced for Wenceslaus” – oh, yes – and then stretch it a bit by speaking of an “uncanny’ resemblance to the Voynich manuscript”. Well, if the Voynich manuscript depicted girls washing in tubs, yes, but it doesn’t… so ~ not so much.
- Unaware of this in 2009, an amused post at ciphermysteries, (‘Voynich Manuscript “Cosmic Wormhole” Theory…’ November 5th., 2009) brought a tongue-in-cheek bit of cheer from me: “Wayne, if you can get hold of a small book by Emilie Savage-Smith, entitled in part A thirteenth-century divinatory device, you should have lots of fun correlating the astronomical and geomantic figures shown there with the star-arrangements of Voynich 68r3.”
About the ‘Persian’ bit, I think there’s a very good case to be made, even just by reason of the drawing style. But geomancy?.. I don’t think so, myself.
10. A note from David Jackson’s blog ( September 16, 2015) mentions in passing that “All of Marco’s crossbowmen are from central Europe (modern Germany, Poland) and appear usually in zodiac depictions contained with books of hours, a manual of geomancy; and other assorted hausbuch.”
which again is a fair comment, and not a ‘Voynich-geomancy’ thing.
Let’s hope that’s the end of it. Now some nice pictures…
Page of the International Astronomical Association: Constellations illustrated (with star dots included), Arabic Star-Names, short Arabic and English bibliographies.
Emilie Savage-Smith and Marion B. Smith, ‘A Thirteenth-Century Islamic Geomantic Device: another look’. downloadable pdf. (superb bibliographic references)
al Sufi’s Kitab suwar al-kawakib al-thabita (Book of the Images of the Fixed Stars). Al-sufi was born in Rey 903AH–died 986AH in Shiraz.
al Tusi’s Tarcama-i Kitab-i Suvaru’l-kevâkib.
Met.Museum: Heilebrun History of Art – Astronomy and astrology in the medieval islamic world(essay).